Just two days after the Arizona Wildcats announced the hiring of new athletic director Dave Heeke, Rich Rodriguez has a list ready for the old Central Michigan AD.
“I have a list of stuff. I always kinda keep it handy,” Rodriguez said through a smile on Monday. “I had it for Greg (Byrne) every time I saw Greg and I’ll have it for Dave as well.”
“You certainly gotta be fiscally responsible, but there’s a few things we need, and there’s a few things we want,” continued Rodriguez. “We gotta address the needs hopefully as soon as possible.”
At the top of the needs list is likely an indoor facility, something that Rodriguez has lamented not having for several years now. He last spoke about this on National Signing Day.
“That’s number one on our priority (list),” Rodriguez said that day. “I think the stadium certainly needs some renovations. I’m not in the bowels of the stadium, I’m not in the concessions or the restrooms, or sitting in those metal bleachers so I know all that has to get upgraded and fixed and modernized, but priority number one for me selfishly in our program is an indoor (facility). I’ve been here long enough to know that for the heat and our workouts and all that, I think an indoor is a necessity and we have room to do it.”
He also touched on it back in the fall when the team was forced to go to Tempe to workout at the Arizona Cardinals’ facility after U of A’s was made unplayable by a massive storm system.
"My sense of urgency is probably higher than everybody else," Rodriguez said. "But (athletic director) Greg (Byrne) recognizes it and has always recognized it. I know Greg works extremely hard and I’ve talked to some donors about it, and hopefully we get something done pretty quick... I'm optimistic."
Heeke has a history of dealing with facility upgrades both at Oregon and Central Michigan. The Arizona press release laid out everything that he was able to accomplish at CMU with regards to facilities:
Facility upgrades and renovations for all sports were staples under Heeke's leadership at CMU, which are highlighted by his coordination of a private campaign for $22 million in renovations to the basketball arena and fitness center. The project included a complete renovation of the arena in the Rose Center, as well as the addition of a dynamic entryway and new practice facilities for basketball, volleyball and wrestling. Heeke oversaw the planning and design of a $6 million lacrosse and soccer stadium, which opened in the fall of 2015, as well as $10 million in renovations for other facilities including baseball, gymnastics and softball.
Rodriguez has somewhat of a past with Heeke. Butch Jones, who was on Rodriguez’s staff at West Virginia as the WRs coach in 2005 and 2006, was hired by Heeke to become the head coach at Central Michigan in 2007.
“He actually hired one of my close friends in Butch Jones when Jones was with me at West Virginia,” Rodriguez explained of his past with Heeke. “Butch did a great job there, but very well respected, and we’re happy he’s going to be a Wildcat.”
Jones has since moved on to Cincinnati and now currently at Tennessee. But Rodriguez has already met with Heeke recently.
“I was fortunate to get a chance to spend some time, a few days last week with him — he and his wife — and we had a good meeting,” Rodriguez said of that visit. “I think everybody’s really excited about him coming here.”